James Earl Rudder_WWII

A French officer decorates Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder with a medal for valor displayed during the invasion on Pointe du Hoc.

June 6, 1944: The D-Day invasion launched as the first broad-scale push-back against the Third Reich in World War II.

Many American and Allied soldiers made history that day, including Lt. Col James Earl Rudder, Class of 1932, who would later become the president of Texas A&M University. Rudder led the Provisional Ranger Unit to Pointe du Hoc on the beaches of Normandy to disable German guns. The success of the Allied forces at Normandy was dependent on the Rangers' triumph.

On June 6, 1944, Rudder was in command of the 2nd and 5th battalions — 984 men — in charge of taking out the Germans' howitzer cannons on the cliff over the beaches of Normandy. More than 150,000 servicemen would make the initial June 6 landing of Operation Overlord, according to the U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

The Provisional Ranger Group was divided into three task forces. Rudder led Task Force A's 250 men on beaches to the east side of the point. The Rangers immediately came under German fire while crossing the beach. The Rangers employed two methods of getting over the cliffs: steel ladders and rocket-propelled grapnel hooks with ropes attached. The ladders were in 4-foot sections to make transport easier and could be assembled as a person climbed up them. Despite Germans dropping grenades over the cliffs and cutting many of the ropes, the first Rangers were over the 100-foot cliffs within 10 minutes.

Pointe du Hoc had interconnecting tunnels, trenches and machine gun emplacements. Part of the Rangers' mission was to set up a blockade on the roadway connecting the beaches, to prevent the Germans from rushing forces to Omaha Beach. By the afternoon, Rudder's forces relayed their first radio message, according to the U.S. Army's Center for Military History: "Located Pointe du Hoc — mission accomplished — need ammunition and reinforcements — many casualties."

Gen. Omar Bradley, commander of the U.S. Army during the Normandy invasion, later wrote of Rudder in his memoir: "No soldier in my command has ever been wished a more difficult task than that which befell the 34-year-old commander of the Provisional Ranger Force."

June 6, 1874: Andrew “Bull” Moses was born. Moses was commandant of the Corps and professor of military tactics and science from 1907 to 1911. The West Point graduate was a brigadier general during World War I, and earned a Distinguished Service Medal. He died Dec. 22, 1946, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His epitaph reads “Farewell, Leader of Men.”

June 6, 1880: The first meeting of the Association of Ex-Cadets was held.

In 1883, the policy printed in the association's program was: "In reunion we meet and live over again our College days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon drill ground and in classroom. Let every Alumnus answer at roll call."

The idea of answering for "fallen comrades" at Muster on April 21 began at this first meeting. Friends and family answer "here" when a name is called, because the Aggie who died is still present in spirit.

June 6, 2012: The Southeastern Conference hosted a welcoming party for Texas A&M and Missouri, as both Big 12 schools joined the conference.

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